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Indirect Effects of a Policy Altering Criminal Behavior: Evidence from the Italian Prison Experiment

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  • Francesco Drago
  • Roberto Galbiati

Abstract

We exploit the 2006 Italian prison pardon to evaluate peer effects in criminal behavior. The pardon randomly commutes actual sentences to expected sentences for 40 percent of the Italian prison population. Using prison and geographical origin to construct reference groups for former inmates, we find large indirect effects of this policy. In particular, we find that the reduction in the individuals' recidivism due to an increase in their peers' residual sentence is at least as large as their response to an increase in their own residual sentence. From this result we estimate a social multiplier in crime of two. (JEL D12, K42, Z13)

Suggested Citation

  • Francesco Drago & Roberto Galbiati, 2012. "Indirect Effects of a Policy Altering Criminal Behavior: Evidence from the Italian Prison Experiment," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 4(2), pages 199-218, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aejapp:v:4:y:2012:i:2:p:199-218
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/app.4.2.199
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Lindquist, Matthew & Zenou, Yves, 2014. "Key Players in Co-Offending Networks," CEPR Discussion Papers 9889, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    2. Christoph Engel, 2016. "Experimental Criminal Law. A Survey of Contributions from Law, Economics and Criminology," Discussion Paper Series of the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods 2016_07, Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods.
    3. Francesco Drago & Roberto Galbiati, 2012. "Indirect Effects of a Policy Altering Criminal Behavior: Evidence from the Italian Prison Experiment," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 4(2), pages 199-218, April.
    4. Galbiati, Roberto & Zanella, Giulio, 2012. "The tax evasion social multiplier: Evidence from Italy," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(5), pages 485-494.
    5. Mastrorocco, Nicola & Minale, Luigi, 2018. "News Media and Crime Perceptions: Evidence from a Natural Experiment," IZA Discussion Papers 11491, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    6. Philippe, Arnaud, 2017. "Incarcerate one to calm the others? Spillover effects of incarceration among criminal groups: Job Market Paper," TSE Working Papers 17-840, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE).
    7. Francesco Drago & Roberto Galbiati & Francesco Sobbrio, 2017. "The Political Cost of Being Soft on Crime: Evidence from a Natural Experiment," CESifo Working Paper Series 6532, CESifo Group Munich.
    8. Francesco Drago & Roberto Galbiati & Francesco Sobbrio, 2017. "Voters' Response to Public Policies: Evidence from a Natural Experiment," CESifo Working Paper Series 6826, CESifo Group Munich.
    9. Benjamin Monnery, 2013. "The determinants of recidivism among ex-prisoners: a survival analysis on French data," Working Papers halshs-00822847, HAL.
    10. Gioia De Melo, 2011. "Peer effects identified through social networks. Evidence from Uruguayan schools," Department of Economics University of Siena 627, Department of Economics, University of Siena.
    11. Lucifora, Claudio & Tonello, Marco, 2012. "Students' Cheating as a Social Interaction: Evidence from a Randomized Experiment in a National Evaluation Program," IZA Discussion Papers 6967, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    12. Giovanni Mastrobuoni & Paolo Pinotti, 2015. "Legal Status and the Criminal Activity of Immigrants," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 7(2), pages 175-206, April.
    13. O’Flaherty, Brendan & Sethi, Rajiv, 2015. "Urban Crime," Handbook of Regional and Urban Economics, Elsevier.
    14. repec:bla:ausecr:v:49:y:2016:i:4:p:515-523 is not listed on IDEAS
    15. Philippe, Arnaud, 2017. "Incarcerate one to calm the others? Spillover effects of incarceration among criminal groups: Job Maket Paper," IAST Working Papers 17-70, Institute for Advanced Study in Toulouse (IAST).
    16. Giovanni Mastrobuoni, 2013. "The Value of Connections: Evidence from the Italian-American Mafia," Carlo Alberto Notebooks 335, Collegio Carlo Alberto.
    17. Christian Dustmann & Rasmus Landersø, 2018. "Child's Gender, Young Fathers' Crime, and Spillover Effects in Criminal Behavior," CReAM Discussion Paper Series 1805, Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration (CReAM), Department of Economics, University College London.
    18. Giovanni Mastrobuoni & Paolo Pinotti, 2014. "The Ups and Downs in Women's Employment: Shifting Composition or Behavior from 1970 to 2010?," Upjohn Working Papers and Journal Articles 14-212, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.
    19. Lucifora, Claudio & Tonello, Marco, 2015. "Cheating and social interactions. Evidence from a randomized experiment in a national evaluation program," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 115(C), pages 45-66.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification

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